NEWS ALERT: Mayor Isko tackles food security with farmers’ groups

Food security and self-sufficiency should be among the country’s top priorities amid the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said in a virtual meeting with farmer groups on Monday, September 13.

Domagoso was invited to join the virtual meeting organized by former Philippine Agriculture Secretary Leonardo ‘Leony’ Montemayor for farmer organizations part of the Federation of Free Farmers Cooperatives (FFFC).

“If you don’t produce your own food, you will be dependent on the world prices. You don’t put your country in the hands of other organizations outside of your country,” Domagoso said.

“You have to produce your corn, chicken, egg, meat, and vegetables. You really have to produce your own. I’m a believer that food must be available and accessible and any country should produce at least enough to feed its people,” he added.

The Mayor’s remarks come as several farmers’ groups are also exploring the possibility of forging partnerships with local governments and other organizations in order to improve the state of the country’s food producers.

Some groups also relayed to Mayor Isko their frustration regarding importation of food supply.

In response, Domagoso said, “I don’t mind importation if there is a need. Pero kung walang malaking demand at sapat naman pino-produce ng lokal, what do you need to import?”

“It doesn’t make sense. Ang paniniwala ko kailangan may makain ang tao,” the Mayor said.

On farmers’ concerns regarding land development, the Mayor said that lands should not be converted to subdivisions if it would interfere with the production of food supply for the country.

“I’m all for development, but not if it defeats the purpose of these lands. Ideally, we should make sure na ‘yung land na ‘yun, ‘pag ginagamit sa crops, should stay as (land for) crops,” Domagoso said.

“Kung hindi naman ginagamit ‘yung land na ‘yun, then we utilize it for other development. That’s the direction at ‘yung ginawa natin dito, we protect the heritage whatever is left but those underutilized property should be developed,” the Mayor added.

Domagoso also encouraged farmers to continue speaking up about their frustrations, hoping to get the attention they deserve.

Aside from Montemayor, among the representatives of farmer organizations or networks of farmer organizations who were present in the meeting are the following:

—Cel Tolentino and Anthony Marzan of Kaisahan
—Atty. Christian Monsod of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP)
—Gerry Bulatao
—Georgie San Diego and Atty. Bong Inciong of United Broilers and Raisers Association (UBRA)
—Hazel Tanchuling of Rice Watch Action Network (R1)
—Jesse Las Marias of System of Rice Intensification (SRI) Pilipinas
—former congressman Nicanor Briones, Edwin Chen, and Nonon Tambago of Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (PROPORK)
—Pepe Tanchuling of Alyansa Agrikultura (AA)
—Roger Navarro of Philippine Maize Federation, Inc. (PhilMaize)
—Timothy Salomon of Bukluran
—Val Vibal of Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
These groups were also part of the meeting:
—Centro Saka
—Focus on the Global South (FGS)
—Greenpeace Philippines
—Katarungan Para sa Usaping Agraryo
—Katipunan ng Bagong Pilipina (KABAPA)
—Magsasaka Partylist
—Negros Farmers Council
Pambansang Koalisyon ng Kababaihan sa Kanayunan (PKKK)
—Pangingisda Natin Gawing Tama and Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Mangingisda (PANGISDA)
—Philippine Egg Board Association (PEBA)